Skills Ontario is collaborating with KickAss Careers, Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) and Women of Powerline Technicians (PLT) to strengthen efforts to promote career opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies.
“There are groups out there that are doing similar work and it made sense for us to try and co-ordinate and collaborate with them,” said Ian Howcroft, president of Skills Ontario. “KickAss Careers (founder) Jamie McMillan is an ironworker with a great story to tell and she has been part of ours for a long time. We thought, why don’t we formalize that with her and what she is doing and tie together the outreach activities of both organizations. We did the same with Women in Renewable Energy and Women of Powerline Technicians.”
The groups will work collaboratively to co-ordinate and promote each other’s outreach and activities throughout the year to maximize synergies.
“We want to make sure that we are maximizing the work we are all doing,” explained Howcroft. “If we are going to have an event in an area of the province, we will invite other groups to come with us and if another group is having an event in another area, we hope that they will invite us so that we are co-ordinating what we are doing and working more jointly.”
McMillan said it’s an opportunity to partner with like-minded organizations who share the same motivation and passion to engage, educate, encourage and support young women and their parents considering careers in these sectors.
We are looking for others that can join our coalition,
— Ian Howcroft
“We are really helping support and promote each other,” McMillan said. ‘We have such aligned messages anyways so the fact that we are partnering with all these organizations, we are building a very strong force of really authentic skilled trades people. We have a similar motivation, we have the same ethical values and message that we want to get across to students.”
McMillan has been involved with Skills Ontario since 2007 and said it’s what got her interested in mentoring.
“One of the great opportunities they have offered to us is to include our ambassadors as more of a voice through their organization,” said McMillan. “They are really working with us to help us build up our team and give them opportunities to participate at events as mentors, speakers, panellists… It gives them an opportunity to come out of their shell and also help others in return.”
Skills Ontario is also welcoming other like-minded groups to join the collaboration.
“These are the first three that signed up but we are looking for others that can join our coalition,” said Howcroft.
Skills Ontario provides several workshops throughout the year such as the Young Women’s Career Exploration Events and the Young Women’s Conference, which is hosted in conjunction with the annual Skills Ontario Competition in May.
“We get about 2,000 young women come out to that and learn about trade opportunities, careers in skills and technology, they get to meet mentors, they get to see the booths and what good opportunities are all about and they get to hear from keynote speakers,” said Howcroft.
“We have a panel of women and young women who have successfully pursued that career so they can learn from what others have done.”
Howcroft pointed out there is a significant skills shortage and young women aren’t pursuing these types of careers to the extent that young men are.
“There is a huge opportunity for girls and young women to find out about that and pursue a career that they might not have been aware of but might find that they have a passion for or an interest in,” said Howcroft.
“What we are trying to do from the very early ages is to make sure girls and young women have a better understanding of what the opportunities are, what they should be doing to go in that direction, if that’s where their interests lie, and helping them to get there.”
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